What We Do

We support refugee mental health through counselling, documentation, education, and referrals.


We provide trauma-focused psychological counseling for refugees in one-on-one and group settings. We use psycho-education, emotion self-regulation, and information sharing to prepare our clients for the short-term refugee claim and long-term settlement processes.


We provide documentation of evidence of psychological trauma for the refugee claim process. We work with our clients (and their lawyers) to document symptoms of psychological trauma to support their refugee claim.


We provide referrals to health, housing, and settlement services. We work with our community partners in the health and social services sectors to create a network to support our clients’ basic needs.


We provide training and professional development workshops on refugee mental health for health and social service providers, and students of allied health programs. We work on local and national committees to advance the rights of refugees and access to mental health services.

Thank you for the support of our funders


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For the last 30+ years VAST has supported the Human Rights and psychosocial wellbeing of refugees arriving in BC, many of whom seek protection in Canada fleeing violence and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The VAST journey

BC’s largest centre for refugee mental health

In 1986, a small group of human rights activists and mental health workers gathered in Vancouver to support the flood of refugees arriving from the armed conflicts in Central America. They founded the Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (“VAST”) in October of that year, and this dedicated group of volunteers built what would become BC’s largest centre for refugee mental health. Today, VAST works with refugees from over 100 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Our programs and services are offered in over a dozen languages, including Arabic, Farsi, French, Mandarin, and Spanish. We support the mental health of refugees who arrive in British Columbia with psychological trauma as a result of torture, political violence, and other forms of persecution on the basis of race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

  • Countries

    We work with refugees from over 100 countries

  • Support Groups

    We run close to 100 support groups annually.

  • Capacity Building

    We run at least 30 training sessions annually with other refugee serving organisation.

  • Individual Counselling

    We provide an average of 43 individual counselling sessions each week.

What Our Clients and Partners Say